In My Travel Brain This Week: February 26th, 2022

Time keeps slipping bybnnb and another week goes by without me writing.  In an attempt to get back on a regular cadence I’m going to try to write a bit of a recap each week.  This won’t just be a list of links I read that I enjoyed.  I’ll catch up with you guys on what the past week looked like on the road (or off) and talk about what’s on my mind from a travel perspective.  Let me know what you think about the format, good or bad, and I’ll do my best to make changes.

I was actually off the road this week taking care of some family matters. We’re also getting ready for my daughter to run in the State Finals for indoor track.  Pretty exciting for her first full year running track!

Even though I wasn’t on the road travel was very much on my mind.  First, we launched voting for this year’s Freddie Awards. The Freddie Awards are the “People’s Choice” of travel loyalty programs.  Each year millions vote on the best in travel loyalty around the world. After a brief hiatus last year the Freddies are back.  I’ll have more to say on my votes shortly, but you can vote here!

Now that voting is in the rear view mirror I’m beginning the planning for our summer travel as a family.  So far, we have four trips on our radar.  We let each of our kids pick a destination this year.  Our daughter has wanted to go to Iceland for quite a while now.  While summer may not be the most ideal time to go, she’s getting older and the number of winter vacations as a family before she heads to college is getting smaller.

Summer Travel Planning

I have a sizable voucher left over from the incredible Delta Vacations promotion a few years ago that I’d like to use on this trip.  We originally planned to use it for Bermuda but I think I can make it work for Iceland. My first few phone calls to Delta Vacations have been a bit frustrating.  For example, an agent told me I couldn’t use my Delta Diamond status to upgrade our family to Comfort+ if I booked Main Cabin through Delta Vacations.  I don’t think that’s right (and Greg from Frequent Miler confirmed as much).  The agents also told me they couldn’t give me a price 0n upgrading to Delta One unless I paid a non-refundable deposit of $2,400.  Then, they would tell me how much more I owed.  The agent didn’t seem to understand why I thought that was a bad deal.  At any rate, I’m working through that and expect to have that trip booked shortly.

I’m also cashing in all of my Capital One Venture and Spark miles for our son’s first choice, which is the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser.  It’s a massive expense, one I don’t think I ever would have paid for “out-of-pocket”.  My buddy Summer (Mommy Points) was the one who put this idea in my head.  I had the massive bonus from the Capital One Spark Miles for Business just sitting there.  She encouraged me to spend those points on a Disney World hotel instead of using hotel points to stay off-site.  While I didn’t do that, the seed was planted in the back of my brain.  When Capital One rolled out the Venture X card, the 10 points per dollar on travel booked through their portal started to form this idea of using that 10X category to fund the Galactic Starcruiser. You can read a great review of the Venture X card here.  I’ve talked about it extensively on my podcast but haven’t really written about the card yet.

I started booking a large amount of our corporate travel through the Capital One Travel portal.  While there have been a few bugs it’s been mostly seamless, and it looks like it’s going to fund a dream vacation for our son.

We’ll also squeeze in time visiting family in Nova Scotia, one of our favorite places in the world.  And, if we’re lucky we’ll also enjoy some family time in Deep Creek.  As always, it’ll be a busy summer.

Thinking About Travel News

Probably the biggest news of the week is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  I won’t dig too deeply into the politics other than to say I’m surprised that as of today I’m a bit surprised the US hasn’t closed their airspace to Russian planes. I know it’s a bit of a moot point now that the EU and Canada did so, but I thought we would be leading on that issue.

Qatar Airways announced they will be adopting the current of British Airways, Avios.  They join a few other airlines (Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling).  Are Avios becoming a “super currency”?  We don’t have a lot of details yet.  I’ve always found the British Airways website a bit annoying when trying to search for award inventory and I have yet to book an award directly with Qatar, though I flew them back from a UN supply mission a number of years ago.  I have to wonder if airlines will follow suit and choose to adopt Avios as their currency.

Continued problems at Boeing are leading to American Airlines trimming their summer international travel schedule.  I have to wonder if this is due to closer scrutiny after the 737 MAX issues.  That means travelers won’t have access to new routes, including Tel Aviv, Sydney,  Sao Paulo and additional London service).  That puts a crimp on burning AAdvantage miles to some of the best destinations this summer.

The new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Disney World is scheduled to open on Memorial Day.  This one has been anticipated by our son for a few years now.  I’m waiting to see footage of it to see if my neurosurgeon is going to let me give it a spin!  In other Disney news, it seems they are already tweaking Genie+ and the individual Lightning Lanes for purchase.  These seem to be positive changes, but we’ll have to see.  There’s no question the new systems are confusing.  But, if you put in the work you can use that to your advantage when others choose to opt-out.

Speaking of our Iceland trip planning, PLAY has launched flights in between Iceland and the US.  Filling the gap that WOW did for years, PLAY plans to use Iceland as a low-cost connecting airport for folks traveling between the US and Europe.  Along the way, it also means we might find cheaper fares to Iceland.  I agree with Ben on this one, thought.  The initial fares look quite high compared to the WOW fares.  Still, it’s an option you should be looking at if Iceland or Europe are on your radar.

We’re starting to see some information about how bad Marriott will muck up award room pricing when they move to dynamic pricing in a month.  If you’re surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.

Lastly, I think this Alaska Airlines flight subscription could be interesting.  Is it a screaming deal?  No, but if you live West of the Rockies you’re in the heart of Alaska Airlines’ network.  Worth a look.

The Final Two Pennies

It always surprises me just a bit how much I enjoy writing about travel.  Work is extremely busy and there are plenty of family obligations, which means most of my writing is done when I’m tired, so please bear with me if I don’t always have timely coverage on breaking travel news.  Travel is still my passion and I’m still trying to find the right cadence to get back to writing daily.  Until then, I hope you’ll give the podcast a listen.  I love talking about travel and we answer listener questions pretty much every week.

Happy to hear your feedback on the format I used today.  Stay tuned for more.  My brain was too tired for a more creative title. 😉

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